Manasseh Mbachii, one of TheMiddlebelt Reporters’ journalists, has been selected for the 2024 UDEME Accountability Reporting Fellowship program.  The 2024 UDEME Accountability Reporting Fellowship is hosted by the UDEME, an accountability and transparency project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development. Manasseh is among the twenty-one journalists selected out of the over 300 applications received both from Nigeria and Ghana for the six-month cross-country reporting fellowship and has undergone a two-day virtual capacity-building training.  With this fellowship, Manasseh and twenty others will identify red flags in budget line items and unique patterns/trends in contract awards at the sub-national level, thereby setting the agenda for a transparent budget process in West Africa. Uchenna Igwe, the moderator of the fellowship, while addressing fellows at the two-day capacity-building training, said that the fellowship will focus on agriculture, education, health, and public infrastructure while placing emphasis on gender inclusion.  During the training sessions, fellows were trained on investigative reporting, data for accountability reporting, budget formulation and process, and the role of journalists in the Nigeria Agenda 2050, drawing seasoned facilitators and journalists across Nigeria who helped in discussing the sessions. Tobi Oluwatola, the Executive Director of CJID, and CJID’s Deputy Director for the Accountability Programme, Mboho Eno, in their separate speeches, remarked the fellowship is aimed at building the capacity of journalists on the importance of data in social accountability and driving impact for investigative reporting in West Africa. Dapo Olorunyomi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, stated the legal basis for accountability journalism citing Section: 22 of the Nigeria’s Constitution and 162 {5} of the Ghana’s Constitution that mandated journalists to deliver on the goals of accountability in journalism.  Dapo stated; “The first role of journalism in  democracy is to serve as a mechanism of accountability.” On Data for Accountability, CJID’s Director of Programs, Akintunde Babatunde emphasized a need for fellows to collaborate with experts and organizations specializing in data analysis to ensure transparency in data sources and methodology while maintaining ethical standards and respect for privacy and security. In her closing remarks, the Program Manager for UDEME-CJID, Ijeoma Okereke congratulated fellows on their selection for the 2024 UDEME Accountability Fellowship and for successfully taking part in our 2-day training and information session, adding that story grants will be issued on a rolling basis within the fellowship period. The 2024 UDEME Social Accountability Reporting Fellowship is the project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), which seeks to build the capacity of journalists to identify red flags in budget line items and unique patterns/trends in contract awards at the sub-national level, thereby setting the agenda for a transparent budget process in West Africa. 

Gloria Ogine Two reporters from TheMiddleBelt Reporters, Linus Egwu and Gloria Ogine were part of the just concluded two days training dubbed, “Credible Elections and Democratic Governance Media Using Fact-checking and FOIA to Combat Information Disorder” held  on the 6th and 7th, March 2024 in Kaduna State The capacity-building workshop facilitated by the International Press Centre Lagos exposed participants to how false information spreads, the importance of fact-checking, and the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in seeking relevant information from Ministries, Departments, and Agencies. Linus Egwu, our associate editor who was among the participants explained that the opportunity exposed him to new ways of checking every piece of information spread through the media space, he explained that the training was an opportunity that further exposed him to the importance of FOIA. He pledged that the training would further improve his work as a journalist while he expressed his commitment to stepping down the training at TheMiddleBelt Reporters newsroom for a better knowledge of all reporters. In his welcome address, Lanre Arogundade, the Executive Director of IPC emphasized that the use of fact-checking and FoiA are integral in the strengthening of Nigerian democracy, hence the need for the workshop. He said, “On behalf of the International Press Centre, in Lagos, Nigeria, I extend a warm welcome to this two-day capacity-building event focused on combating information disorder in democratic governance reporting using fact-checking tools and Freedom of Information tools.”  “This workshop is a component of the  collaborative efforts between IPC and the Centre for Media and Society CEMESO under component 4 of the European Union Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGNII) project.” He continued.  Lanre appreciated the participants and urged them to put to use the knowledge obtained from the training.  While expressing gratitude, some of which the Participants posted on social media, Fortune Zulaiha Danjuma, a reporter with Kano Focus explained that she found the training course interesting and important to her work, she explained that the training has opened her mind to double-checking every information. Fortune Abang, a reporter with the News Agency of Nigeria, explained that the use of fact-checking is very important in the era of easy accessibility of information, he further noted the training will improve his work, and curbing information disorder will be part of his work going forward.       

By Manasseh Mbachii Benue State chef, Victor Tartenger has embarked on a remarkable 135-hour culinary journey to set a new Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon by a single individual. Victor who is popularly known as Naira-Victor began his cook-a-thon on Tuesday, February  27, 2024, in Makurdi the Benue State Capital, and is scheduled to conclude on Sunday, March 3rd, 2024 The record-breaking attempt by the Benue Born Chef is coming after Alan Fisher, an Irish restaurant owner, and chef based in Japan, broke the cooking marathon by an astonishing 119 hours and 57 minutes to displace Nigerian Hilda Baci’s who held the record from May 2023 till November 2023  Chef Victor, who hails from the Food Basket of the Nation, aims to push the boundaries of culinary endurance with the intention to share 70% of the food cooked during his days in the kitchen with the Internally Displaced Camps within the State. Confirming the record-breaking attempt Guinness World Records indicated that Victor Tartenger received approval from the GWR on December 17, 2023, to set a new cooking marathon record in Makurdi Benue State of Nigeria to cook for about 120 hours plus to dethrone the award-winning Chef Irish Alan Fisher. Nigerians eagerly awaited the outcome, as hundreds of supporters were seen at Tiger Bar in Makurdi Benue State to witness Naira-Victor’s extraordinary cooking marathon in setting a new Guinness World Record. The recent attempt by Victor is among several others that have attempted to break the record after Hilda Baci did in May 2023.


Jairus Awo

Jairus Awo is a Nigeiran Muiltimedia public interest journalist. He believes in the power of the media as a catalyst to development and societal growth. You can tip him an idea on [email protected]

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